The Serta iComfort mattress ... what's the buzz

I always find it interesting to take a look at some of the new offerings that seem to create such a buzz in the mattress market. Not long ago it was the Dr Breus mattress which was more often than not being promoted as a 100% latex mattress when of course a simple look at the law tag would make clear that it was anything but … with only a little bit of latex hidden inside it. In addition to this of course … the “story” of sleeping cooler which was its major selling point was because of the Celsion latex and the outlast ticking which are available in many mattresses in the market place at much lower prices. This story though created a huge buzz in the industry for a while until consumers realized that they were not getting what they thought they were paying for … in spite of the “famous person” endorsement that is so often used to sell mattresses at an inflated price. In this case the national manufacturer was International Bedding Corporation,

Now … Serta has introduced the iComfort mattress with the “revolutionary” new gel memory foam (and in some models “slow recovery” latex). This “revolutionary” new memory foam somehow justifies a price which averages between $1374 and $1599 for the queen Genius model with 2.75" of the Gel Memory foam, 2" of “support” foam, and then 6" of comfortlast foam core. I guess the higher prices are to leave room for “bargaining”.

Now lets compare this to something similar. The Gel memory foam in this mattress is made by Avanced Urethane Technologies/Sleep Innovations as you can see here, which is available under the brand name NovaForm at Costco. If you look at the Costco website, you will see the Novaform Gel memory foam Queen mattress here for $599.99.
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Granted, it does have 1/4" less of the “revolutionary” gel memory foam but it has a little more support foam poly underneath and is 12" thick overall. Fairly similar. Of course there is also a possibility that the foam densities of the gel memory foams are slightly different since neither mentions this specifically (EDIT: the iComfort uses @ 5lb memory foam while the Novaform uses @4lb) . Do these minor differences justify an almost $800 price difference (or more) for 2 mattresses using very similar materials in almost the same amounts? In my view of course the answer is NO.

This is another of so many examples of why we recommend local manufacturers with shorter supply chains who actually put quality and value into their mattresses rather than just attach high prices to them hoping that consumers will believe that the brand name somehow justifies what they are paying.

It’s sad that so many people will “trust” the name or what they’re being excitedly told by a salesperson enough that they will actually buy this mattress … and think they got a “deal” if they manage to bargain their way into a little bit of a discount.


I work in the industry and actually challenged Serta with what the major difference was… here’s the scoop… the iComfort is 30% gel vs. 10% gel for the sam’s club and costco “nova” foams. when you compare the 3" in the Serta with the 2" in the warehouse toppers and beds, you end up with about 6 times the amount of Gel… that being said, I’ve also laid down on both and you can definitely tell the difference. The iComfort beds feel much denser.

I certainly appreciate the information that you have added to this thread … however it brings up a few more questions for me. It also points to the lack of information and transparency in the materials used in the mattresses made by major manufacturers and the consumer difficulties that this represents. This is probably as frustrating for you as it is for consumers. While I certainly believe that you have been told this, there is just no way to validate it’s accuracy as there is nowhere on the web that I am aware of that this information is made public. The difference in thickness of the novaform gel layer and the Serta is only .25 as well rather than an inch so even if what you were told was true (which I doubt), then the Serta would have 3.3 times the gel in it not 6.

All of this is also is making an assumption that having more gel in the memory foam is a good thing. Since Sleep Innovations has not released much information about it, about the only thing I know is what they say, what can be inferred, recognizable patterns in consumer reviews, and that it has less tear strength than regular memory foam. There are many cases where smaller amounts of “additives” to a material can actually perform better than larger amounts. Again, the lack of available consumer information leaves the consumer at the mercy of the manufacturer’s “story” which they are selling which is a rather poor substitute for accurate information about the materials themselves.

I checked out the Serta gel foam topper available at Amazon here and if you calculate it out, the gel topper is less than 5lbs per cubic foot. This is less than most of the higher quality memory foams on the market which are usually 5 lbs and up. Assuming that the gel material is more dense than memory foam, this would mean that the memory foam used was substantially less than 5lbs which does not represent great quality memory foam as a “base” material.

Did you order a Novaform from Costo just to try it out and compare it with the Serta?

Thanks again for taking the time to post.


Just to add a little more information to this … the Sleep innovations gel memory foam calculates out to being a little under 4 lbs/cu ft and as I mentioned in the last post, the Serta calculates out to being just under 5 lbs/cu ft. This means of course that while neither of them are using particularly high quality memory foam as the base for the gel beads, the Serta would certainly feel denser … and would probably last longer between the two. If it is true that the Serta is using more gel, then that would also mean that the memory foam used as a base is even lower density and worse quality than this.

In terms of value, I personally don’t think that either of them represent good value. At the price of the Serta, there are much higher quality memory foam mattresses available at a lower price.

The Sleep Innovations is close to the price of what I would call a “throwaway” mattress. This means that if it’s comfortable and you are happy with the idea that low density memory foam doesn’t last very long, then by all means buy it knowing that another mattress or topper purchase will soon be needed. There are higher quality “throwaway” mattresses available as well at a lower cost.

This to me is another case of selling a “story” rather than selling the quality of materials used. Unfortunately this has become the “norm” for the industry as a whole … and is especially true for many of the major manufacturers such as Serta (hovering under a billion a year in sales) and Sleep Innovations (in the range of 300 million a year or perhaps more now).

Interesting too that Michael Fux who founded Sleep Innovations and later rejoined them to help them emerge from bankruptcy has just started a new company called Comfort Revolution who will also be selling gel memory foam called Hydraluxe. Likely made by Advanced Urethane Technologies as well would be my guess. They will be “competing” with both Serta and Sleep Innovations.
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Ok, I’m curious about this information and I’d like to know more. I am currently looking to buy a memory foam mattress and after doing a fair bit of reading, I have narrowed my choices down to three brands: the Serta iComfort, the Costco Novaform Gel memory foam, and the Dynasty Mattress (which appears to be a cheaper knockoff of the Tempurpedic and it gets excellent reviews on Amazon).

With respect to the iComfort and the Novaform, common sense dictates that if the iComfort is indeed virtually the same bed as the Novaform and manufactured by the same company (Sleep Innovations), then I would clearly get the Novaform and save several hundred dollars. I also read a thread over on the forums where a few other people have also asserted that if you look at the iComfort label, it will say “made by Sleep Innovations.” Phoenix, you have also stated that the gel memory foam for the iComfort is made by Sleep Innovations.

I decided to go see an iComfort in person to look at the label and see whether it actually is the same mattress as a Novaform. However, the label on the iComfort clearly says it’s made by Serta, NOT Sleep Innovations. When I click on the link you provided, it draws up a blank page and I see no proof showing that the iComfort is indeed a rebranded Novaform.

So is there anything else out there that proves Sleep Innovations has a hand in both the iComfort and the Novaform? If that is indeed the case, then my choice has just been narrowed down…it would be the Novaform vs. Dynasty Mattress. I’d appreciate any advice and feedback!

Hi Phreaky_d

I’m not sure which link wasn’t working for you (I checked them and they seem to be working for me) but if you go here and click on the 4th picture you will see the you will see the “by sleep innovations” on the Serta packaging. You can also see here at Sam’s club that the 10" Serta gel memory foam mattress is labelled “by Sleep Innovations”. Even if they didn’t say so explicitly in this case, in the mattress industry you will often have to “connect the dots” and since Advanced Urethane Technologies is making “gel bead memory foam”, then it would be fairly safe to assume that any company using a similar description would be from the same source.

Even though the foam itself is similar though, they would have the ability to make the same foam in different densities and it seems that the Serta version is slightly denser than the Novaform version. 5lb memory foam is generally considered the “cutoff” for good quality memory foam, 4lb memory foam is medium quality while 3lb memory foam is low quality. The denser the memory foam the longer it will last and the longer it will keep it’s qualities. Of course there is a lot of mislabeling in terms of density as well and some places will label their memory foam differently (per 2 cubic ft for example) to make them look like higher quality.

Just to further confuse the issue … there are so called “gel memory foams” also made by sleep innovations that are not the same as “gel bead memory foam” so sometimes a slight difference in description points to a different material. In this case however, it is the same foam but in different densities.

In terms of the Dynasty mattress, They say it is 5lb memory foam however they do not say who manufactures the memory foam and they do not say it is Certipur certified so it is probably safe to assume that it is Chinese sourced (Made in USA could easily mean manufactured in USA from Chinese foam) and they have no information about what is in the rest of the mattress. This is not necessarily bad in and of itself but it makes it an “unknown” foam from an “unknown” company using a “website builder” website and I personally have some difficulty buying a mattress where I do not know the quality of the materials or how “safe” they are (I have personally experienced some of the breathing issues that come from memory foam materials that outgas) and know little about the company.

If I was going to choose a very low cost memory foam mattress, then I would either make my purchase from a local manufacturer who will tell you exactly what type of memory foam they are using or from a Costco, Sams Club, WalMart type of outlet who will allow a return at no cost to you (and will usually even come to pick them up).


Thanks, Phoenix…this is AWESOME info! While the iComfort may have slightly increased density on the foam, it appears that the Novaform is the better value. I’m ok with spending $500 on the Novaform with the realization that I may have to replace the mattress after maybe 5 years. I actually spoke with a Costco sales rep at my local store earlier today who just bought the mattress herself and she loves it so far. In light of your advice about the Dynasty, it appears that the Novaform will be great for my needs. Now I just need to find a good sturdy foundation. Thanks again for your input!

Glad I could help a little. Just to throw a couple of other options into the mix for your consideration as well.

While I am not a huge fan of memory foam and prefer latex, this is very much a personal preference issue. If I was to buy a memory foam mattress, the type of memory foam that is my personal favorite is Aerus manufactured by Foamex. The reason for this is that it is in my opinion the most breathable of the memory foams (I tend to sleep hot on memory foam). I would personally lean in this direction over the sleep innovations memory foam although I do agree with you that the Sleep Innovations is a better value than the Serta iComfort as long as it is suitable for your sleeping positions and comfort/support needs (that’s why it’s nice to have return options for an online purchase in case it doesn’t work out).

There is an Aerus memory foam mattress sold at WalMart online using 4lb foam which is in the same price range and you can see it here.
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In addition to this, if any of our manufacturing members are anywhere close to you, they would also be well worth a phone call as they may also have a quality memory foam mattress in your price range and you could be confident that they are using the best quality materials available in their price range as well (including the polyfoam used as a base foam under the memory foam).

Always nice to have choices :slight_smile:


This was a very helpful discussion to follow. I was very close to buying the Serta icomfort, but after stumbling upon this website I have learned what I have always wanted to know about mattresses and the industry. I am now planning to purchase a latex foam mattress from a factory direct store. However, I have one burning question before I purchase. Are the gel beads used in Serta memory foam a form of the buckling gels discussed on this website…and if so, does it suggest a more stable mattress?

Hello Sschuck, … and welcome to the forum.

The buckling column gel is quite different from the gel beads that are used in the “gel memory foam” mattresses. It is made up of “honeycomb” like “soft plastic” type of material. The individual hollow columns “collapse” when a certain amount of weight is placed on them while the surrounding cells remain “stiff”. The material contains no memory foam.

Natura is one of several manufacturers that use this material (orthogel) in some of their mattresses and their nexgel site here is very informative.
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The “gel beads” on the other hand are beads of a “gel like” material which are infused into memory foam. I personally believe … based on the feedback I have seen and research I have done … that it is more about marketing than it is about performance as I am not convinced of its benefits over a high quality memory foam or other materials. The “stability” (in the sense of it’s ability to support) of a memory foam mattress … with or without the gel beads … would depend on the density of the memory foam comfort layer, it’s thickness, and perhaps most of all on the type and quality of the support layers (usually polyfoam) underneath it.

Good luck in your search and if you have any other questions feel free to ask :).


Is the foam and construction in the iComfort the same as the Bed-in-a- Box?
I like the price of the Bed-in-a-Box, but am uncomfortable buying a mattress on line.
I have noticed the difference between a plain memory foam and the fancy brands when shopping, but I can’t justify the extra $1-2000 they want for some fancy quilted cover. Which brings up another question, how important is the quilted cover?

I should have mentioned that i am 6’-2", 225 lbs., my wife is 5’6" and weighs a lot less than me.

Hi Joe,

Thanks for your questions and welcome to the forum.

There is a lot of misinformation on the Bed in a Box ( website which contradicts the information on any authoritative website concerning polyfoam or memory foam (Including the polyurethane foam association which is the manufacturers’ association website). Regardless of what they would have you believe, 3 lb memory foam is inferior to heavier density memory foam and will not last as long or perform as well over the longer term … and probably not in the short term either. Their comments about “breathability” and “older technology” is also very misleading.

I would put the Bed in a Box in the category of a “short term or guest mattress” meaning that it may be comfortable in the short term (assuming you choose the correct model) but it will lose the qualities that make it comfortable much sooner than higher quality memory foam. Since it is also very inexpensive, this tradeoff may be worth it to some. I personally would lean towards some of the memory foam mattresses available at places like Sams Club, Walmart, or Costco for a memory foam mattress in this price range because of their return policy and also because they have memory foam mattresses that use higher quality memory foam than the Bed in a Box. “Aerus” is an example of an American made memory foam that comes in higher density and is also more breathable than most memory foams.

The iComfort … while still not what I would consider to be good value … is certainly higher quality than the Bed in a box and would almost certainly last longer.

I believe that the best value of all in a memory foam mattress can be found at a local mattress manufacturer (that actually has their own factory and sells direct to the public) who will usually use the highest quality materials of all in a given price range and will give you accurate information about what you can expect from your mattress in terms of durability and performance. If there is one close to you, it also gives you the opportunity to test it out first. If there is not a local high quality manufacturer close to you, then your best course of action is often to test out mattresses in the local stores and then have a reputable manufacturer that sells online manufacture one for you that "“duplicates” the construction of the one you like the best using similar or better materials at a lower cost. Given your size, I would not consider any memory foam under 4 lb/sq ft density and 5 lb would certainly be preferable (although it is generally more expensive)

In terms of the cover, a memory foam mattress usually does best with a high quality durable ticking material which does not have quilting and is somewhat “stretcheable” (a knit material for example). This way you do not have a layer of quilting between you and the memory foam which would lessen the ability of the memory foam to soften and conform to your body shape. If you find that this sleeps too hot (a common issue with many memory foams), then you always have the option to add a quilted mattress pad to your mattress to improve breathability and temperature regulation. This also has the advantage of being replaceable when the quilting material (such as wool) compresses.

I hope this helps and if you have more questions feel free to ask.


Wow, was I going in the wrong direction.
I livin Omaha Nebraska.
Not a huge metropolis, are there any manufacturers near me?
thanks again, Joe

Hi Joe,

There are a couple of local manufacturers in Omaha that may be well worth calling or visiting. They are listed in post #2 here.

The odds are good they will have something suitable that is in your price range. If it would help you, I am always looking for an “excuse” to talk with local manufacturers that I haven’t had the chance to talk with yet and I’d be happy to talk with them and pass on my impressions.

Failing that, you could also use local mattress outlets to zero in on the mattress construction that works best for you and then use this information to order from an online manufacturer (several of our members ship across the country). There is lots of information on this site about how to do that and I’d be happy to help here as well if you need it.


I’ve been following this discussion as well. My husband and I purchased a Simmons Beautyrest Pillowtop mattress about 6 years ago. We thought name brand equated to better quality and durability. However, we were disguested that after a couple of years there was this huge dip in the center of our mattress. My husband is 200lbs and I’m 120lbs. He has been complaining for years about being uncomfortable so we finally decided to replace it. We looked at Tempurpedic and iComfort instore and were interested in finding out more information. We’re cautious about dumping another $1500 in a poor quality mattress and unsure where to begin the search. What would you suggest in our situation?

I was also shocked and disappointed at the misinformation, deceptive business practices, and in some cases outright lies that were so common in the mattress industry and this was the primary reason for the continuing research and the hundreds of hours of conversations with mattress manufacturers that eventually led to this website.

In general terms, I would focus more on mattress materials and construction than on brand. These ingredients are “common” to all mattresses even though many manufacturers try to sell a “story” rather than the benefits of a particular material. Usually this “story” is a coverup so that consumers will perceive a “benefit” in the use of lower quality and less expensive materials. In other words they are buying the story rather than the mattress materials.

Larger national brands simply cannot compete with smaller local brands primarily because of the length of their supply chain. Each step of this supply chain needs to make a significant profit and the end result is a mattress that uses similar or even identical materials to a local brand but is priced much higher. Local brands have a much smaller supply chain and far less “profit taking” steps between manufacture and the consumer. While it is true that the major national brands may purchase their raw materials for slightly less, this does not come close to making up for the many “profit taking” steps along the way to a consumer purchase. The goal of most major national brands is to use “half true” stories to replace openness and transparency about the materials and construction methods they use. They also use deceptive practices (such as having multiple names for the same mattress) to discourage any comparison of materials and construction. Unfortunately, they are so pervasive that consumers have come to accept the stories rather than take the time to do some basic research into mattress materials. Celebrity endorsements are another version of “selling a story” which is used to replace real consumer education.

In the “Mattresses” section of this website, there are several “layers” of information which can be used to make a good mattress purchasing decision. The “basic functions of a mattress” overview is a good place to start and each section after that has an overview and then more detailed pages about the different parts and construction methods of mattresses for those who wish more details.

Tempurpedic is a good example. While there is no doubt that they use good quality memory foam and make good mattresses, the days when they were the only high quality memory foam are long over and there are many memory foam mattresses which use high quality memory foam and construction methods which cost far less. Much of their popularity is because of a very large advertising budget and a consumer perception that they are somehow better than other memory foams. The facts and an unbiased comparison with some other memory foams does not support this perception however many consumers hear so many horror stories that they are not sure who or what to believe any longer and take the “safe” route. This website is an attempt to correct this. Even the “space program” story about memory foam is only half true as the development of memory foam for use in space was abandoned and it was never used … even though NASA did do the original research in this material. Tempur took this research and developed the memory foam we know today and over the course of years other companies did the same. Memory foam itself has many disadvantages along with its advantages and tends to be a love it or hate it material. The advertising surrounding it is also filled with half truths an misleading comparisons. A more detailed analysis of memory foam generically can be found here Memory foam - pros and cons - The Mattress Underground

So the place to start in my opinion is to use the “mattresses” section of this website to do some basic research, ask lots of questions, avoid retailers that are not open and transparent about the materials they use and their specifications … no matter what the stories they may attach to them, and to find the best materials and construction for your specific needs and then talk to factory direct outlets (including the members of The Mattress Underground when you believe it is appropriate) to find the best value for the type of mattress and materials that you find works best for your specific needs and budget.

While all local or regional manufacturers are not necessarily “wonderful” and it is true that some of them use similar practices to their larger counterparts … as a group they are far and away better value than their larger national competitors and better yet they are usually owned and sold by “mattress people” who really are interested in giving you accurate information and great service. The manufacturers which I have invited to be part of this site are the beginning of a group of local manufacturers and factory direct outlets which I have come to know and trust over the course of my research and conversations and are committed to providing accurate information and helping you find a mattress that fits your needs rather than one that fits their desire for greater profit alone.

I hope this helps a bit and if you have any questions that are specific to your own needs or that you have not been able to find an answer to, I hope you will feel free to post them here. You are always welcome to start a new thread that is focused on your own search as well. If you do this then it would be helpful to include your sleeping habits (side back, stomach), height, weight and body shape, any special needs or issues (back issues, sleeping hot etc), your budget, and the city where you live.

Thanks for your post and welcome to our Mattress Forum!


Hello again,
I contacted the local manufacturers that you mentioned.
Omaha Bedding is wholesale only.
Midwest Bedding was very helpful and may be a decent contact for you.
They use a 5.3 lb. memory foam and have models with all foam construction and foam with inner springs.
The inner springs thing doesn’t really excite me, and it seems his memory foam has a decent price.
(queen mattress set, under $900)
I also saw that Lebeda calls itself a manufacturer, and they have mattresses called the Visco Soft & the Visco Firm and also a latex mattress with a bamboo cover. have you heard of these guys?

Hi Joe,

Yes, Lebeda is a regional manufacturer which sells factory direct in several states including Omaha. I should have listed them in my previous post but I had the state listed as NB instead of NE for them so they didn’t come up on my search. I have talked with several of their outlets and the knowledge level varied with the outlet I talked with however they do have a cutaway of their mattresses in each store and have easy access to the information about the materials they use if the local store doesn’t know it already. They would be well worth a visit. I talked with the Omaha store and their latex mattress (6" + 2" Talalay) was $1529 (mattress only queen size) which is quite reasonable and their Reve which has 4" of latex over an innerspring was $2149 (mattress only queen size) which seems a little on the expensive side although the lady I talked with there didn’t seem to know a lot of the details so I didn’t ask her why it was so much more than the all latex mattress. She did mention that it could be made with inner tufting (making it firmer as well) which usually indicates higher quality and construction methods.

If you do go there I would ask the details of the visco foam comfort layer they use (density, thickness, and manufacturer) and the type and details of the support foam polyfoam core as well. In one part the description they describe the core of both the visco soft and firm as being high resiliency polyfoam (meaning 2.4 lbs/sq ft and higher and a compression modulus of 2.5 or higher) while in another part of the descriptions they say it is high density polyfoam (which is the norm used by most manufacturers in the support core) which usually means 1.8 lbs/sq ft and higher. Higher weight foams of the same type usually mean better quality and greater durability.

Omaha bedding does supply some local outlets and also makes a line for Nebraska Furniture Mart so they may be worth checking out. While they are not technically “manufacturer direct”, they do have a shorter supply chain which usually means better prices and better quality.

Thanks for your comments about Midwest. I’ll call them and ask them a few questions to get a feel for them and how they make their mattresses.


I recently purchased an iComfort Genius (the firmest of the iComfort line) from a local mattress chain. After about 4 days I felt the foam already losing firmness. After 10 days, it was getting much worse, so I called the retailer and they let me return it for a store credit. I will be using the credit to get an adjustable base. Yeah!

Now that I have read some of the articles on this site, I want to buy a mattress from a local manufacturer rather than a chain. I called up a local manufacturer today (Custom Comfort in Orange County, CA) and was pleasantly surprised to hear that their pricing is very affordable.

Thanks, Phoenix, for providing your knowledge and insight.